You may want to think twice about using your baby camera monitor that connects to the Web. New research has found that it may lack basic security and could be vulnerable to hacking.
Rapid7, a security and analytics company, compiled research finding hackers can gain access to nine popular Web-connected baby monitors with elementary hacking practices, according to BBC. This would not only allow the hackers to watch your baby from anywhere in the world, but also offer them the opportunity to steal your personal data, BBC reported.
"There's a certain leap of faith you're taking with your child when you use one of these,'' Mark Stanislav, senior security consultant at Rapid7, told BBC.
Specifically, these monitors, which allow parents to watch their child from anywhere through a website, tablet or smartphone app, don’t encrypt or password-protect the device’s data, BBC reported. They also include “unchangeable passwords” in their manuals, which hackers could use to gain access to the baby monitor.
To find this, Rapid7 researchers reviewed nine different baby monitors and rated them on a grade-scale of “A” to “F.” Eight of the devices received “F” grades, with one reaching a “D,” according to CBC. All nine were labeled vulnerable, though.
"When one gets an 'F' and one gets a 'D minus,' there isn't an appreciable difference," Stanislav said, according to CBC. "And unlike a laptop where you can install firewalls and antimalware, you can't do that here."
Several parents across the United States have seen their baby monitors hacked in the last five years.
In April 2014, Heather and Adam Shreck heard a hacker shout at their 10-month-old daughter, Time magazine reported. When the parents ran into the room, the camera turned to them and started shouting again.
Similarly, in 2013, a hacker infiltrated one camera-enabled monitor and started shouting at the child, who couldn’t hear the screams because the daughter was deaf, Forbes reported. After the parents rushed into the room to help their daughter, the camera turned on them and the hacker started shouting obscenities, according to Forbes.
So how can parents keep their baby monitor safe from hacking? CBC reported that consumers should constantly update their camera and mobile applications to make sure security updates are fresh. Parents should also look to unplug their baby monitor when it’s not in use, CBC reported.
Financial responsibility expert Clark Howard suggests parents register their device right out of the box so that they get the proper security updates. Parents should also make sure they have password protection on their home wireless router and change any default passwords they have on devices in their homes.
“I'm not trying to take you into the full realm of paranoia,” Howard wrote, “but I do want you to know what to do so you and your family can stay safe.”
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Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret News National. Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @herbscribner.